High court to rule on protected witness' demand for 'distance-testimony' before Parliament com't probing alleged judicial conspiracy

Friday, 21 February 2020 12:01
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The supreme court in Greece is expected to respond to a request by a Parliamentary committee of inquiry, either today or Monday, over a demand by a "protected witness" in the explosive Novartis case to testify before its members, but from another venue and with voice and facial characteristics altered.

Although the years-old prosecutorial investigation began in earnest to probe whether past office-holders received kickbacks by Novartis' subsidiary in Greece in order to fix pharmaceutical prices and choose the drug-maker's products over rivals, attention has now dramatically shifted to whether a top minister in the former SYRIZA government, Dimitris Papaggelopoulos, influenced and oversaw the creation of a judicial conspiracy to sully nearly a dozen of the then leftist government's political opponents.

In contrast to reviews and investigations in other countries, practically no action was taken in Greece to ascertain whether physicians and hospital administrators in the country were recipients of kickbacks and pricey gifts by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant.

The demand by the witness, identified only by the alias "Maximos Sarafis", would entail testimony that differs from the more than two dozen times the latter appeared before a relevant anti-corruption prosecutor over the past three years.

Members of the Parliamentary committee, sans those from main opposition SYRIZA party, have countered that the two "protected" witnesses appear before them in the same way and manner in which they appeared before the prosecutor.

Allegations by the two anonymous witnesses and would-be "whistle-blowers" - initially three - implicated 10 former prime ministers and ministers that held office prior to January 2015. Cases against seven of the 10 were subsequently shelved, with the now under-scrutiny prosecutor overseeing the prolonged investigation, Eleni Touloupaki, failing to present any evidence corroborating the claims.

An investigation continues to drag on against three of the politicians, namely, former PM and current MP Antonis Samaras, current Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis and KINAL party MP Andreas Loverdos, a veteran lawmaker and minister.

Only Loverdos has been summoned to testify in relation to the claims against him.


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